The Morning After The Night Before, LVXII
I have no idea where to start. So let’s just dive right in, shall we? And I hope you all appreciate the time of this post, it’s the middle of the night there, it’s two hours earlier here and I’m still not entirely certain what time we get home. But it’ll be nice to be there for a day or so.
Three Things I Learned
I Don’t Know What To Say
That might have been the ugliest five minutes of point guard play of the season, maybe since Rafer was here. But what do you do? Can’t trade him. Can’t play Jose 48 minutes a night. Can’t use Darrick Martin every game. Carlos Delfino can’t make a shot.
|DOUGLAS C. PIZAC/ASSOCIATED PRESS|
|T.J. Ford, wearing St. Paddy's Day green, is restrained by teammates during the fourth quarter of Toronto's 96-79 loss to the Utah Jazz March 17. Ford was teched up and ejected.|
Talked to a couple of guys on the way out, coaches and players, and the feeling was they’ve got to get T.J. right, somehow. Quickly.
My opinion? He’s not handling being a backup well and I think he knows he’s a second stringer for as long as he remains in Toronto. He’s hurt, his emotional state isn’t good and he doesn’t know how to handle it. The explosion at the ref had as much to do with the last two weeks as it did the preceding five minutes.
This is going to be the biggest challenge of Sam Mitchell’s coaching career, he’s got to get to T.J. and make him understand they need him to be steady, not spectacular, not a one-man show. Who knows if Sam’s up to it.
Maybe last night was indeed rock bottom, I know listening to T.J. right after the game he knew what he’d done, felt bad and I’m sure he’s hurting today.
But this is what it is: he has to play some, he has to play better or this season’s gonna degenerate into a mess of biblical proportions.
It’s not too late to salvage something (one scout I talked to on the trip figures these guys come home, win a bunch of games in April, finish sixth, beat Orlando in the first round) but time is running out.
It’s on the coach and T.J.’s teammates to get to him.
A strange crowd reaction
Here’s the difference between Salt Lake and Toronto. The visitors are making a run, cutting the halftime lead to 52-51 and you know what would have happened in Toronto, right. Boos. Probably lots of them. What happened in Utah? The fans started cheering louder. Same thing at the end of quarter, after Raptors tie it.
I guarantee you that never happens in the Air Canada Centre.
Out of consideration
All right, I know he got hurt a couple of weeks ago against Dallas and is likely still banged up but after watching Andrei Kirilenko last night, I’m putting him far down the list of guys the Raptors should pursue this summer. In fact, he might drop all the way off it.
As I’m sure you can imagine, the mailbag was littered with T.J. rants last night (I’d say there’s 25 in there now and it’s about 11:30 out here). All good opinions, many well put but really no questions that I can answer better than I did before.
So, let’s check out some other mail:
Q: So I remember Bosh said that he was trying to improve his three point shooting, so basically he'll be a big that can shoot...like Bargnani. So why don't the Raps do the opposite for AB7 (doesn't quite work) and make him adapt Bosh's style play. I know the team IS working on his post game, but all I see is Andrea trying to run around his defender and occasionally shoot over them. Whereas Bosh's game is more like dribbling left and right, left and right then spinning around the defender to the cup or he does a fade-away jumper. I think it's easier to teach Bargnani this slower style rather than him picking up offensive fouls or travelling all the time. What are your thoughts?
Veronica S, Winnipeg
A: I think they should take more advantage of Bargnani on the low block, actually. He’s not fluid enough right now to catch the ball mid-block and square his man up but when he gets a small guarding him, they have to put him down on the block and let him operate.
He’s done it a couple of times, he seems to be a good enough passer to handle a double-team.
Bargnani’s got a lot to learn and post play isn’t something that’s easy but they have to start exploiting mismatches more often.
Casey out in Burlington, along with a handful of others, wonders:
Doug, would like to hear who you like as your final 4 in the NCAA tournament. Do you enter a bracket anywhere online? I like Yahoo's bracket manager, but their $5M cannot be won by Canadians. Any input where we can go online to win big?
I don’t have much input on where to go on-line to win; I’d start with The Score’s homepage since they’ve got the tournament and maybe they can link you up.
Now, I’ve probably watched 100 minutes of college basketball all year, and about 85 of those minutes came this weekend. And Super Son, who is the defending Kids Champion of this little pool run by a young bookie we know, hasn’t filled out his sheet yet.
But if the little fella asks me tonight, I’m thinking of steering him to North Carolina, Georgetown, Pittsburgh and UCLA.
I’m pretty sure as they each get eliminated some of you will remind me how dopey I am.
I’m going to ask this question of a couple of readers/writers out there: Is “objective reporting” only actually reporting the point of view you happen to agree with? It’s funny that people hold up examples of game stories and blog posts and mail answers as not being objective and then supply as examples of what they mean stories, posts and questions that are simply differing opinions?
It’s a fun part of the gig, I guess. And sure can make for entertaining ranting on a pre-game afternoon in a hotel room.
At the arena in Salt Lake, we sit elevated in the tunnel right by where the Raptors enter the court. At the end of the first quarter, I looked down and Rasho had his red shooting shirt on with his green shorts and he looked like a tired Christmas tree.
But you know what? The green uniforms didn’t look stupid. In fact, they looked all right. Not as a steady diet, I prefer red personally (generally matches my eyes), but they were a good shade of green.
One more in the mail and have to get this one in today ‘cause of time.
Q: Reading about Rafer's 31 3-pointers and all, the following question popped into my head: how many 3s will he try hoisting in the 1st quarter alone against Boston Tuesday? And on what Rockets possession will the first one come? If you were Vegas, what would your line be? I say he puts up 4 3s in the 1st (more if he makes) with the first coming in the first 2 possessions.
I know he has been effective this year but I don't miss him at all.
Colin B, Bogota, Colombia
A: Gambling, I remind you, is the devil’s work and book-making is very illegal. I put the over and under at 3 1-2 in the first quarter and the first by two minutes.
And I present this as a proud, very proud, former resident of the Niagara peninsula.
While this is not Raptors related, I wanted to make a point of writing in about the quality of the CIS Final 8 tournament held this past weekend. The Carleton-Acadia double-OT game was one of the best games I’ve ever seen and to see the Badgers as National Champions as a seven seed was a thing of beauty. At Brock $6 can get you courtside to see some great Canadian ball. I hope you’ll publish this not so much as a question, but as a public service announcement of sorts to your readers. Thanks Doug.
Kelly A, Hamilton
Finally, here’s how the Salt Lake Tribune summed up the big game.